Does Weed Expire? How to Tell When Cannabis Goes Bad
Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Table of contents
All cannabis has a shelf life, no matter if it’s in product or plant form. Just as a bunch of broccoli or spinach comes with an expiry date, so does fresh weed. Luckily, your weed will last longer than the lettuce in your vegetable drawer — at least a year, as long as you keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Consuming marijuana at optimal freshness ensures you get the most out of the plant’s therapeutic cannabinoids and other natural compounds.
The two main factors that determine how long a cannabis or CBD product will product is:
- The type of product it is (e.g., tincture, flower, edible, etc.).
- How much plant matter or any other fresh ingredients it contains.
Cannabis Freshness Guidelines
Cannabis expiration dates largely depend on the type of product you are consuming. Marijuana can last long, months, or even years, but be aware of these general expiration date guidelines for each cannabis product you purchase.
Medical marijuana is an umbrella term that can encompass virtually any cannabis product. The best way to know when your medical marijuana expires is to read the label or ask your pharmacist.
CBD tinctures have the most extended shelf life of any cannabis product. Tinctures infused with high-proof alcohol can stay fresh for up to ten years if stored appropriately. Oil-based tinctures, which are less common, can last for two years.
Much of how long cannabis flowers will keep depends on how well-cured the flower or bud is and how well it is kept after buying from the local dispensary. If your product is well-dried and cured correctly (i.e., it is relatively dry without too much moisture) and then kept in a mason jar out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place, it won’t grow mold or mildew.
Cannabis flowers can last up to 18 months in such conditions, losing potency after six months of being in the jar. It is generally advisable to use fresh cannabis flower within six months, as most people cannot keep them in optimal conditions without fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
Hash and Wax
The less flower there is in the extract or concentrate, the longer it will last. However, just like cannabis flowers, you must keep hash and wax stored in a cool, dry place with little sunlight to prevent the cannabinoids and terpenes from degrading and mold forming.
Hashish tends to contain the most plant, which lasts around the same time as flower (around eighteen months, maybe a little longer). If hashish is not appropriately kept, it can go moldy. As for waxes, budder, and shatter, these concentrates can potentially last up to two years, losing potency after around twelve to eighteen months.
Many edibles contain perishable ingredients, such as eggs and milk. Edibles like brownies and cakes are not likely to last longer than two to three days when made at home and stored in an airtight container. Cannabis edibles from dispensaries may contain preservatives that stay longer in the packaging but will still come with a use-by-date.
Cannabis-infused candies may last longer than baked goods – between six and nine months – as they do not tend to contain many perishables in their original packaging ingredients. You should keep all edibles in a cool, dry place out of final packaging.
Rick Simpson Oil
Like tinctures, Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is usually made with an alcohol infusion process. This process gives RSO an approximate shelf life of ten years under proper storage conditions.
Vape pens contain vape oil, and the cannabis extract used to make them does not have any plant material. Moreover, vape pens are usually well-contained. So, if properly kept, vape pens can last long without losing much potency – around two to three years. However, vape pens often do not have a fixed expiry date and could last longer.
Cannabis topicals like creams, oils, and gels usually last up to two years when stored in their original container and sealed after each use. Cannabis-infused cosmetics may also last up to two years, though the expiry date will depend on the ingredients in the cosmetics. Soaps are alkaline and will preserve any cannabis they contain quite well, potentially lasting longer than two years.
How to Tell If Your Cannabis Is Bad
Several easy-to-spot clues will let you know that your cannabis has gone bad. From funky smells to scuzzy mold, here’s how you’ll know if you’ve got a batch of rotten cannabis.
It Smells Bad
If the product doesn’t pass the smell test, it’s likely seen better days. Check for a smell of rotten eggs or anything that smells unfamiliar. Many cannabis strains have a “skunky” smell familiar to regular users. So, your experience with using cannabis will also help your nose determine if the product is still fresh or past its sell-by date.
The Texture Changes
Fragile, crumbling cannabis could indicate that the expiration date has passed. Note the texture of your cannabis product when you first purchase it, and watch for any changes later.
You See Mold
Discolored spots and white fuzz are the telltale signs of mold. Just as you would toss a moldy loaf of bread, dispose of your moldy, old weed.
Can Ingesting Expired Marijuana Harm You?
Ingesting any expired food product can lead to nausea and other digestive issues. However, it is unlikely that ingesting expired marijuana will cause serious harm. Still, when in doubt, throw it out.
Tips for Storing Cannabis
How you store cannabis significantly impacts how long the product will last, and these criteria are crucial for storing cannabis and maximizing its shelf life.
Choose the Right Container
Mason jars made of glass with an airtight seal are the best long-term storage vessels for cannabis, and the glass retains the flavors and aromas of cannabis and its freshness. For short-term storage of a week or less, vacuum-sealed plastic bags or metal containers will work.
Pay Attention to Humidity
Too much moisture accelerates the degradation of weed products, so store them in an area of low humidity. A relative humidity level of about sixty percent is ideal for most cannabis products.
Keep It in the Dark
Avoid exposure to direct sunlight at all costs. Cannabis products last longer in dark spots like cabinets and cupboards.
Can I Freeze Marijuana and CBD Products?
You can freeze marijuana and CBD products if you require a short-term storage solution. But more than a few days in the freezer will degrade your cannabis product and decrease potency.
Explore the world of cannabis products with your medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s physicians are here to help you apply for your MMJ card online today.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can CBD oil be kept once opened?
As long as you store your CBD oil in a cool, dark place, it can stay fresh for up to twenty-four months.
How long does it take for THC wax to expire?
THC wax and other concentrates last between three and six months before expiring.
Do marijuana edibles lose potency over time?
Yes, marijuana edibles do lose potency but not for quite some time (a year or more, depending on the type). As you are likely to consume your marijuana edibles within weeks of purchasing them, it is unlikely that any potency will be lost during this short time.